Tue | Nov 30, 2021

New Zealand sets 90% vaccination target to end lockdowns

Published:Friday | October 22, 2021 | 9:57 AM
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces in Wellington, Friday, October 22, 2021, an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 90% of eligible people to end coronavirus lockdowns. Ardern has been under pressure to provide a pathway to freedom for people living in Auckland, the largest city, who have been in lockdown for more than two months. (Robert Kitchin/Pool Photo via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's government on Friday set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 90% of all eligible people to end coronavirus lockdowns.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had been under pressure to provide a pathway to freedom for people living in Auckland, who have been in lockdown for more than two months.

Under the new framework, people living in the largest city will regain many of their freedoms once 90% of people 12 and older across each of three districts are fully vaccinated.

Other parts of the country without community spread of the virus will gain even broader freedoms once they hit the 90% target.

However, people will be required to use new vaccine certificates to visit places like bars, restaurants and gyms.

The government also promised more money to help businesses struggling under the lockdown restrictions and to boost vaccinations among Indigenous Maori, whose rates have been lagging.

New Zealand's vaccination target is set higher than in many other countries, but Ardern said Auckland could reach it within weeks.

However, as vaccination rates have risen, health officials have found it increasingly difficult to convince remaining holdouts to get jabbed.

Currently 89% of eligible Aucklanders have had at least one dose and 73% have had both doses, a rate slightly ahead of the national average.

The new plan requires each of 20 health districts in New Zealand to reach the 90% target.

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